Reducing uncertainty for travellers about the time it will take to reach their destination should become a policy priority for authorities. Research shows that the cost of unreliable travel may rival that of congestion, a topic on which transport policy has traditionally focused. This is the key message of a presentation by International Transport Forum (ITF) senior economist Jari Kauppila to be delivered at the ITS World Congress in Detroit (7-11 September, Cobo Center, Detroit MI) on Wednesday, 10 September at 1:30pm.

Shifting the focus from reducing travel time to reducing its variability implies a move from policies to build new infrastructure to better management of existing infrastructure, and to information provision for the users to enable better planning of the journey.

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) play a key role in tapping the benefits of increased reliability of transport systems. A study on the A6 motorway in France showed that effective traffic management could reduce average travel time for a 20km long section by 12% and the buffer needed to account for variability by 45%. “Reliability represents a major network characteristic that should be recognised when considering investment options”, says Kauppila. “Reliability should therefore be incorporated into cost-benefit assessment.”

This has already been done, at least on a pilot basis, in countries like Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Depending on the project, the inclusion of reliability as a factor in project assessment may add 10 to 25% to monetised user benefits.

The ITF will also have a stand at the exhibition during the ITS World Congress. The stand (booth 522) will highlight the ITF’s new Corporate Partnership Board (CPB), created in 2013 as the ITF’s platform to engage the business community for policy work. Current CPB members include Bombardier Transportation, China Communications Construction Company Ltd., Cosco, Kapsch TrafficCom, Meridiam, Michelin, Nissan, PTV Group, Sertans Logistics, Total, Uber, and Volvo Group.